This article is part of Football FanCast’s Transfer Focus series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent transfer news…
Arsenal could be set to sell Granit Xhaka during the January transfer window, following the events and aftermath of the Crystal Palace match, as reported by The Mirror.
It has been a tough time for the Switzerland international, since he used expletives having been booed off during the Crystal Palace match.
He was stripped of the captaincy by Unai Emery, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang taking over the role from him.
The Switzerland international also put out a statement explaining his reaction, which he signed off by saying: “Let’s move forward positively together.”
However, that eventuality now seems unlikely, as he could be sold during the winter window, with Bundesliga clubs said to be admirers of the 27-year-old, while The Times have indicated that Newcastle United could make a move for him.
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This is an unfortunate series of events for Xhaka, but where there is a loser there is usually also a winner.
In this scenario, Matteo Guendouzi could be the beneficiary.
The 20-year-old has already been an integral part of the team this season, starting all 11 league games, but with Xhaka out of the team it could allow him to become the undisputed leader of the Gunners’ midfield.
He has shown the potential to do that through his performances so far, having an impact both on and off the ball.
The way that he has done this indicates a capability to step up and take over a leadership role in the middle of the park moving forward – Xhaka, who is valued at £40.5m by Transfermarkt, being sold would give him the perfect opportunity to start doing this on a regular basis.
And Arsenal icon Per Mertesacker has already alluded to the youngster’s leadership credentials in an exclusive interview with talkSPORT.
“He’s someone we need to really watch. In terms of can he be a future Arsenal leader and be consistent week in week out? That’s what we expect from him now.
“We’re in a situation where we need players to step up. Everyone is asking: ‘Who is the captain? Who are the leaders?’
“We need players who step up on the field and show what they’ve capable of, and I have a good feeling we have a lot of people who can do that.”
That a player of Mertesacker’s reputability spoke so openly of his leadership credentials speaks volumes about his potential to grow in stature in north London.
On the field of play, the Frenchman has averaged 1.8 tackles, 1.4 interceptions and 1.5 dribbles, while he has also made 1.5 dribbles per game and recorded a pass success rate of 87.9% so far this season.
This is part of his rapid progression since joining Arsenal from Ligue 2 outfit Lorient, a step up in quality that he has dealt with brilliantly, as indicated by the role the midfielder has managed to forge for himself in the team already.
Could he be a future captain in the making?
The departure of Xhaka may well force Guendouzi to take a more senior role within the side and succeed where the Switzerland international so acrimoniously failed.